A new study conducted at Yale University has found that introverted people are likely to be good social psychologists.
The research which was published in the Social Psychology journal attempted to investigate social psychology skill – in other words, how good someone is a predicting people’s behaviour in a social environment.
A thousand people took part in the study conducted by Anton Gollwitzer and John Bargh, both psychologists at Yale. They wanted to assess how certain people act and feel in various social scenarios.
A series of experiments were conducted by the duo who aimed to identify the traits of the people who accurately answered the questions that featured in an online quiz.
Some of the questions featured read; “Do people work harder in groups or as individuals?” and “Do people feel more responsible for their behaviour in groups or as individuals?”
Once they had the results of the quiz they conducted six separate studies to try and find the various traits of those who answered the questions.
Those studies were:
1. Assessing whether individual differences in social psychology still exists.
2. Which psychological variables predict social psychology skill.
3. Replicate the finding of study 2.
4. Replicate the findings of study 3 while controlling for participants science test-taking skill.
5. Whether psychological skill has anything in common with intuitive physics and self-deception.
6. Whether psychological skill has any relation to judgements about another individual’s actions.
The authors found that shy or introverted people were more likely to answer the questions on the test accurately than extroverts.
This could be down to the fact that said individuals spend more time on their own and observing others, indicating that they have a better understanding of other people’s psychology in a social setting.
Obviously, personal intelligence and a willingness to engage in complex problems was key to this but so was melancholy and a sense of low self-esteem.
Speaking to Yale, Gollwitzer said:
It could be that the melancholic, introverted people are spending more time observing human nature than those who are busy interacting with others, or they are more accurate at introspection because they have fewer motivational biases.
Either way, though, this demonstrates an unappreciated strength of introverts.
While this may indicate that introverts would make excellent psychologists, the authors were quick to stress that they may be more beneficial in other areas such as predicting the public’s mindset for things like politics and culture.
These ‘natural’ social psychologists, because they better understand social phenomena, may be able to interpret and even predict social changes in our society — maybe they are exactly what is missing from our current governance and positions of power.